Mary's Reviews > Desert Solitaire

Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
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Jul 15, 12

it was amazing

There's really no good excuse for my not having read this book until now. I guess I've long known that Abbey's writing had a bit of an edge, and I suppose I thought the book (first published in 1968) would feel dated. It does, to a point--what he feared in the way of "industrial tourism" has long since come to pass--yet that just made the work all the more poignant. I was in fact playing the role of industrial tourist on my way to Arches National Park when I read the book, and after the Colorado wildfires prevented me from getting there, I couldn't help but think my experience of the park and the region by way of Abbey was superior to what it might have been in person. Abbey's passion for the desert is palpable, his descriptions of the heat and the dust and the rocks simple and searing. But by far the most memorable chapter is the one detailing his journey down the stretch of the Colorado that was about to be drowned by the Glen Canyon dam. A beautiful piece of writing commemorating a lost landscape--or, for that matter, a lost love, a lost people, or a lost way of life--may not be an adequate substitute for what is gone forever, but it is one of the best legacies a writer can leave for the world. And that's why this book is a classic.
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